Being Released from Testosterone Prison.

May 21, 2021

Being Released from Testosterone Prison.

May 29, 2023

MEA alum Rob Hanna and I recently rifted on “manopause,” the physical and psychological symptoms that often affect men in their 50s and are part of the natural aging process. It is estimated that testosterone decreases about 10% every decade after men reach the age of 30.

The medical term is “andropause,” which is unlike womens’ menopause in that the decrease in testosterone and the development of symptoms is more gradual than what occurs in women.

Chip: I can chart my 50s in two phases. In the first half, up to age 56, I experienced what felt like my romantic and sexual last hurrah, almost like I was a "randy" early adult. Then I started noticing hair falling off my legs and my libido falling like a spaceship from Mars. Now, I’m 60 and feel a bit like a monk. How about you?

Rob: I’d wager heavily it’s premature for us Modern Elders to say “sexual last hurrah” by any means, but I have felt a dramatic, Shawshank Redemption level of newfound freedom from my testosterone prison during my 50s (and we’re less than a year apart in age). The 50s ushered in a palpable level of physiological, emotional, and even psychological space as my testosterone levels receded. Without a doubt, there’s more daily peace and emerging contentment in my life now because testosterone no longer drives me to be feral or purge myself just to get to sleep and release my manic energy.

That said, being randy is now much more of a delightful option than a daily compulsion.

Have you ever had hormone replacement therapy for testosterone or tried supplemental testosterone? I tried it for a brief period – it was wild.

Chip: I haven’t tried hormone replacement therapy because of my prostate cancer (don’t worry, I won’t go into an “organ recital” about what parts of my body aren’t like they used to be). Tell us more about testing testosterone, and why aren’t you still doing so?

Rob: The context of using testosterone supplementation has to do with my stint as Chief Wellness Practitioner at a longevity club at a family medical practice. My doctor (and the owner of the practice) simultaneously wanted to learn about my fasting and upgraded eating protocols because of my enduring and increasing vitality over the past decade. And he did this by hiring me while also concurrently (and conflictingly) prescribing me testosterone cream because my blood work showed low T scores. LOL!

So, on the one hand, I was very energetic, athletic, and still competitive with no overtly observable symptoms of having low T, yet my blood work showed low enough T levels that he wanted me to boost my levels through hormone supplementation. And wow, it was like throwing gas on a brush fire. Hmmm, no, that’s a poor metaphor…It was more like…hmmm.

Ok, the T cream didn’t change the way I normally felt at rest, but it did put me on a hair-trigger of untapped new potential begging to be used, whereby any provocation in my environment and I was off the charts aggressive and up in people’s faces with all the most confrontational aspects of my personality on display. Not only did T remove any social gentility and filter, but my whole troglodyte-man orchestra was striking up the music at once. Bam! I was a caricature of masculinity. A ticking time bomb of a cartoon waiting to be triggered by some casual comment or sudden movement. It was simultaneously hilarious and horrifying – and all of it, ALL OF IT, was physiological and faster than any possibility of thought or forebrain intentionality.

Chip: You mean you were a teenage boy?

Rob: Exactly, but no, not entirely – far worse. There is something different about testosterone when you’re a teenage boy and how it resides and expresses itself in the body and then again how it changes in both how it feels and is expressed as we become older, even as elders.

I was more like a reptile in heat.

I also had enough presence of mind to stop using the cream after about a month.

Chip: In sum, we men do like our quick fixes, don’t we? Our blue little pills from Pfizer? We treat our bodies like machines whereas my women friends seem to see their body more like a holistic system. Menstrual cycles and menopause are part of the broader landscape of what it means to be a woman.

Because andropause is less-known and happens more gradually, many men are almost unconscious to what’s happening, but over time, many of us feel a sense of quiet desperation as we feel less virile, less manly. But, what if we could just sink into this chapter of our lives with a sense of relief of no longer being a passion puppet? We can appreciate creating space between stimulus and response. I, for one, am loving the liberation I feel being out of my testosterone prison.

Rob Hanna founded Social Wealth Partners and guides venture entrepreneurs and early stage investors to achieve greater multiples of profitability and impact successes than could ever be achieved without him. He’s an MEA alum from the beta period more than three years ago.

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